An Australian start-up is making waves in the industrial property sector and has plans to become the number one place for tenants to find new warehousing space. MHD catches up with uTenant’s Co-Founders to find out more.
As we sit down with uTenant Co-Founders Matt Sampson and Kyle Rogers the pair are celebrating a record month. The industrial property start-up has matched close to 50,000 sqm across Australia in November 2020, and while this sets a record, Matt and Kyle both agree that this is just the beginning.
“We’re doubling year on year. Not just in revenue and customers but also in the size of our team, platform traffic and capabilities,” Matt Sampson, Founder and Managing Director of uTenant tells MHD.
Officially launching in 2017, uTenant’s mission is to make life easier for tenants and landlords alike, with the goal to increase transparency and confidentiality across the industrial property sector.
Matt has a long history in the real estate industry. Having worked for CBRE for eight years as Associate Director of Industrial & Logistics Services, Matt started his own boutique industrial real estate agency in 2015. It was then that Matt started to explore different ways of working in industrial property.
“When you’re out of the corporate world, your conscious creative mind has the space and time to think about how things can be done differently and more effectively,” Matt says.
In 2015, amidst a tech start-up boom where industry giants such as Airbnb and Uber were experiencing a surge in users and interest, Matt started to think about the industrial property industry and how it could benefit from a shake-up.
“From a tenant perspective, there are a lot of pain points. Often, the tenant has no idea what is going on behind the scenes so the whole process is complex and at times very difficult,” Matt says.
If a tenant is looking for a new warehouse, they usually explore online listings and speak directly to agents. However, Matt says this adds an extra layer of complexity. “Some listings don’t exist, some might have been filled six months ago and some don’t even make it to the listing page”.
Beyond the inefficiencies of searching for available properties, Matt says another common issue in industrial property is the lack of transparency and confidentiality for the tenant.
“When a business moves to a new warehouse, there are a lot of ancillary services and products affected by that move. Pallet racking providers, materials handling products and services are all attached to this decision so it can get very complex. Confidentiality for the tenant is really important here,” Matt says.
Furthermore, Matt says there is a lack of transparency in the industrial property industry and addressing this is a major priority for uTenant. “We do this by operating a flat fee across the country. Generally, tenants are oblivious to the market fee structures, but we are completely open about ours,” Matt says.
By operating a flat fee structure, uTenant remain strongly independent, as its commission remains the same regardless of the property the tenant selects.
Established with the aim of offering greater efficiencies in the industrial property market, uTenant provides an online platform that presents a bespoke list of all relevant options to the tenant. The aim is to enable our clients to make the best property decision for their business strategically, operationally, and financially.
“We have created a user-friendly platform that allows new tenants to look at all possible options in one place, instead of trawling through online listings and ringing multiple agencies,” Matt says.
A one-stop shop
Last year, Kyle Rogers joined the uTenant team as Co-Founder and General Manager. Inspired by tech start-ups such as Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn and Facebook. Kyle wanted to bring the same thought process and principles to uTenant and as a result established a new arm to the business.
With the same founding principle of creating more transparency and value in the industrial property and warehousing industry, Kyle recognised that many leading start-ups offer their users a complimentary service that compliments any paid-for offerings.
“We have created a complimentary pallet matching service which helps tenants to find and fill their excess warehouse space. Unlike similar warehouse brokerage firms we don’t charge for this service,” Kyle says.
By helping businesses to find and fill internal space, uTenant is able to build relationships with the entire supply chain, and when it comes to searching for property the model is tried and tested.
“We are the one-stop shop for warehousing needs. If you have pallets and need space to put them, we can help. If you have space you need to fill, we can help. And ultimately if you need a new warehouse, we can help you find one in a cost-effective, transparent and much easier way,” Kyle says.
In November alone, uTenant placed over 11,000 pallets of FMCG products into various 3PLs across the country and didn’t clip the proverbial ticket. “It’s a bit like YouTube in a way,” Kyle says. “The world’s largest video platform does not charge users to watch or upload videos. Instead YouTube makes the majority of its revenue through advertising.” Kyle goes on to add that this is what’s known as a three-sided platform or marketplace. “It’s simple really. Add value to two sides (tenants trying to find or fill their space) to generate revenue from the third side, i.e. the landlords.”
The uTenant platform can sift through more than 100 3PL providers to find out who can help find space for the product that needs to be stored and present the customer with an array of options. “The fundamentals are the same, and the platform’s goal is to increase efficiency in these otherwise inefficient processes,” Kyle says.
A new way to lease property
uTenant is not an advertising site, it’s not possible to go online and look through a list of available space, instead it offers a personalised approach. “You can enter your requirements into the system and then you will be presented with a specifically curated list of options based on your criteria of space, location and operational needs,” Matt says.
Once a query is received in the platform, uTenant will ensure that all options are covered off, either directly with landlords or through our network of agents nationally.
“If you are a supply chain, procurement or logistics manager and you need a warehouse either short-term or long-term, uTenant will cover off the entire market and bring you options you didn’t know existed,” Kyle says.
The platform itself has been designed with the user in mind. Matt says this was a key priority from the outset “The industrial property industry is probably the slowest of the sectors to embrace technology and often this can create frustrations for occupiers due to out of date information or a slow response time to requests for details,” he says.
With both Kyle and Matt having such extensive experience in the supply chain, industrial property and logistics industry, they are well placed to offer relevant and quality options to the tenant.
“Sometimes tenants are presented with options that don’t fit their requirements at all, we make sure that we only present the ones that are relevant and suitable for our clients rather than a long list for the sake of it,” Matt says.
A further advantage of working with uTenant is its ability to introduce both tenants and landlords to ensure that the negotiations can take place directly.
“Because of our full transparency on cost and fee structure, we are happy for the negotiations between the tenant and landlord to take place independently of us. This can also provide a greater outcome and offers the opportunity for strong working relationships between tenants and landlords to develop,” Matt says.
Something that Kyle says is of huge value to large organisations who often have several senior leaders across the business who are experienced in negotiating at this level.
Giving back to the industry
uTenant’s team is creating more than just a business, they are creating a community. “The community aspect of what we want to achieve is huge. We want to build a better ecosystem of services for the industry we are trying to help,” Matt says.
Our structure allows us to align ourselves with the outcomes of our clients and to this end we structure our fees to provide a rebate back to the tenant on completion of any property transaction (except NSW).
“Through our reduced fees, complimentary pallet matching service and rebates to tenants we have delivered in excess of $1 million back to our clients over the last few years.” Matt says.
Beyond the technology platform, uTenant has added significant solution capability to the team in 2020, which has enabled them to run a number of additional services including formal tenders, market sensor checks, RFQ’s and RFP’s for their clients.
“Often businesses select a handful or parties to respond to tenders, RFQ’s and RFP’s which may or not be the best fit for their business. There are hundreds of logistics providers across the country with different capabilities, cultures and services. One of the many challenges in the industry is that most logistics providers have a different charging mechanism or rate card which can be difficult and time consuming to decipher. Particularly in the 3PL world,” Kyle says.
uTenant goes to market confidentially on the client’s behalf, engages their networks and speaks to the providers that are suitable based on the client’s unique requirements. “It is vital to invite the correct parties to a tender process from the start which, in turn, will aid in finding the perfect match and partner for growth,” Kyle adds.
Especially this year, supply chain leaders are under more strain than ever dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. uTenant’s aim is to provide much needed support, guidance and advice to allow the industry to focus on other strategic initiatives. Kyle says that uTenant’s Solutions Service will assist the wider industry with the right match for inbound, warehousing and outbound logistics that best suit their respective business strategies both now and in the future.
Finally, uTenant has experienced increased interest from logistics providers looking to make strategic acquisitions to bolster their capability and footprint Australia wide. This has been on the back of the start-up introducing two parties for a large acquisition in Melbourne earlier this year. Kyle says uTenant look forward to building on this service further in 2021.
While it’s hard to disrupt industries like industrial property and supply chain which are somewhat set in their ways, Matt and Kyle are certain that the new way of sourcing property, warehousing and 3PL services will be welcomed in the industry.
As the industrial property sector develops, and retailers shift their models further online the demand for industrial space is set to grow significantly over the coming years and uTenant imagines that their technology platform will be able to offer innovative ways for tenants to find new facilities.
In the foreseeable future that could be old run-down retail stores in central locations that are being transformed into mini warehouses or micro-fulfilment centres and uTenant’s efficient, cost-effective and transparent way of sourcing new warehouse space is set to play a central role in this shift towards flexible property options.
“We are adding value and doing the right thing for the industry. We intend to invest heavily in our technology in 2021 to make sourcing property, warehousing and 3PL services as easy as possible for all parties. We’re reimagining a future with a new way for landlords to market their sites direct to tenants and how product owners find the right 3PL providers. We want to bring all three sides of the market together through our multi-sided platform. The product owners and 3PL’s (both tenants of industrial facilities) and landlords together in a one-stop shop for logistics,” Matt concludes.
To find out more, visit: https://utenant.com.au/.